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Armenian Activist Deemed 'Mentally Ill,' Then Freed


Shant Harutiunian

Shant Harutiunian

Shant Harutiunian, an Armenian opposition activist arrested last year following deadly postelection clashes with security forces in Yerevan, has been released from prison after being found to be mentally ill.

A Yerevan court on May 13 suspended Harutiunian's trial two months ago and subjected him to a psychiatric examination.

He was transferred to a mental hospital where he spent more than one month.

Armenia's Court of Appeals says that Health Ministry psychiatrists have concluded that Harutiunian was not sane when he delivered speeches to thousands of opposition protesters after the March 1 presidential election, which the opposition says was fraudulent.

Harutiunian told RFE/RL's Armenian Service that he has no mental problems.

Known for his nationalist views, he said Armenian officials "couldn't take me back to court because my trial would have been a greater embarrassment for them."

Harutiunian said he will not "participate in or support the opposition" in the May 31 municipal elections but said he's ready "to take any step, including a revolution, for the sake of my friends who are still in prison."

Scores of opposition activists are still jailed for their actions after last year's election.

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